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Second Chances

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“What’s your name?”

Izuku knew all the kids around here. He knew every one of them, by name, by face, by the sound of their voice. There weren’t a lot of kids that lived in his apartment complex or nearby, but Izuku knew every one of them. Every one of them except, of course, this new boy.

A face he’d never seen before.

‘Don’t go far, Izuku! Mommy will watch you!’ his mother had told him, the same words she always called out to him when Izuku was already halfway out the door. Even now, he could glance up and see her, watching him intently from the balcony of their second floor apartment, though he was too far away to see her face and whether or not she looked concerned. He didn’t focus on her for long, though, since to Izuku, the strange boy in front of him was much more important.

The boy didn’t even look up at him, still sitting with his back to Izuku. It had rained overnight, filling some of the grassy areas outside the apartment complex, including a low ditch area outside of Izuku’s building. The heavy rainfall had attracted frogs, as Izuku could see, and that was where he’d found the odd newcomer, crouched next to the dirty rainwater, dragging a stick through the mud and staring at a particularly large frog that had made its way here.

“Hey, did you hear me?” Izuku took another step forward, frowning, his rain boots squishing in the marsh-like grass. His mother had insisted on dressing him head to toe in rain gear, telling him that he didn’t want him to get sick from playing outside in the dirty rainwater, and next to this boy, Izuku felt a little silly.

He couldn’t see a lot of him, since he wouldn’t look up at Izuku, but he could see enough to tell that he must be his age. He was small, thin, pale, and his most defining feature was the head of wild violet hair. He didn’t have a raincoat or boots on, instead wearing a pair of shorts and a sweater, and Izuku was a little jealous that his mother hadn’t insisted on sending him out in so much bulky plastic rain clothes.

Still, the other boy didn’t do anything, not even indicating that he’d heard Izuku. He dragged his stick through the murky rainwater, acting as if he were still alone. Izuku wasn’t having it, though, and he immediately took it to the next step, reaching forward and jabbing his index finger into the other boy’s shoulder.

That got his attention. Finally. Izuku heard a gasp, barely having the forethought to step back before the boy whirled on him, turning so fast that he wobbled on his feet where he was crouched and tumbled over, falling flat on his backside in the mud with an audible thump. His eyes wide, staring right at Izuku, purple and a little… strange. Different from his, and Kacchan’s, and the other kids in their kindergarten, but he didn’t know how, couldn’t place it. That might’ve scared other kids off, but not Izuku. He stayed right where he was, smiling and raising a hand to wave at the other boy.

“Hi!”

The other boy just narrowed his eyes at Izuku, the shock having passed. He was sitting in the mud now, having fallen over when Izuku poked him on the shoulder, and Izuku could see that mud had splashed enough to get all over the back of his sweater, too. Again, he felt a twinge of jealousy. His mother would hate if he got that messy and Izuku was sure that it’d mean a bath and closer supervision next time he went out. He wished he could easily get that dirty without his mother freaking out.

“...What do you want…?” The voice startled Izuku, soft but tight, as if the boy was angry. He glared up at Izuku, mouth set in a deep frown. It reminded him, almost, of Katsuki, but there was no pride or amusement in his voice.

“Um… I just wanted to know your name,” Izuku took a step back, partially wondering what he’d gotten himself into. He’d seen someone new at the apartment complex and his mind had immediately jumped to getting a new playmate. He didn’t have a lot of friends, especially since the discovery of his quirklessness last year, and Izuku was ecstatic at the prospect of there being someone new to play with. But this boy seemed angry at him, and not just because Izuku had caused him to fall into the mud.

Some of the anger cleared from the boy’s face, though, to Izuku’s relief. He looked back at the still rainwater in the ditch, not bothering to get back up as he dragged a line in the mud with his stick, voice so quiet that Izuku could barely hear him, “It’s Hitoshi.”

“Hitoshi! That’s so cool,” Instantly, Izuku was back to his normal, overly excited self. Hitoshi. He didn’t know anyone named that. He’d never heard of a Hitoshi around here. He must be new. Izuku had never seen him before, never heard of him before. He must’ve just moved in. Izuku definitely had a chance at a new playmate. “I’m Izuku! That’s my mom up there on the balcony! I’ve never seen you before. Did you just move in? Where does your family live?”

Hitoshi was back to not looking at him, but at least he was responding now. He paused, sitting in the mud, but after a moment, he answered, “I just came here. I live with the Ishiis.”

That, however, confused Izuku. He knew that family. They’d been here for as long at Izuku could remember. They were an older husband and wife with an older daughter. They didn’t have any kids. Izuku knew that. They lived right down the hall from Izuku and he’d talked to them a thousand times before and he’d never seen another kid with them. That was impossible.

“No way,” Izuku said, frowning at Hitoshi again, shaking his head. “I know them. They live right by me. They don’t have any kids.”

Hitoshi had to be joking, he decided. But… he wasn’t even smiling, much less laughing. Maybe he was just weird…?

“No, they don’t,” Hitoshi turned to look at him again, wearing the same odd expression on his face. “I’m in foster care.”

“What’s that?”

“Do you know what adoption is?”

“No.”

Hitoshi just groaned and opened his mouth to say something. He was interrupted, though, by a loud yell coming from the second floor of the apartment complex.

“Izuku! Lunch is ready!”

Izuku looked back at Hitoshi, giving him a small smile, right before he bounded off in the direction of the apartment building, calling back over his shoulder, “I’ll see you later!”

 

“Does the Ishii family have kids?”

Izuku asked it later that night, sitting in the living room of their apartment, his set of hero figures spread out around him. He was supposed to be playing with them—they had a very important school to save, after all—but Izuku found himself getting distracted every few minutes, thinking of the boy he’d met outside today. It was raining again, and every time the music that his mother had on quieted, the sound of the raindrops pouring outside just reminded Izuku of Hitoshi.

His mother stopped what she was doing in the kitchen, a pan still in her hand from where she’d been washing it, and smiled gently at Izuku, obviously thinking that he was being his usual curious self and not seeming to realize that he was worrying over the boy outside again.

“Oh, they have a daughter. She’s a lot older, though,” She told him as Izuku stared at her, waiting. “You’ve met her, though, haven’t you? Did you forget about her?”

“No—” Izuku’s face scrunched up at the thought of forgetting someone like that. He never forgot people. Izuku was the best person he knew at remembering people and things about them, especially their quirks. “—Mom, what’s adoption?”

That question seemed to grab his mother’s attention. Her face fell, the smile disappearing from her face. She set down the pan she was holding, turned off the water, and stepped out of the kitchen, coming to stand in front of Izuku. She got down to his level, then, looking him over, Izuku growing more and more confused by the moment.

“Um… it’s when… when a family has a kid, but it’s not their kid,” She sounded unsure of herself, as if she were dancing over her words, voice shaking a little. Outside, the rain continued to downpour, and Izuku remembered the way Hitoshi had spoken, how he’d agreed that the Ishii family didn’t have any kids, even though moments before he’d just claimed to live with them. “Sometimes it’s because something happened to the real mother or because… other bad things happened. Izuku, where did you hear about that?”

He ignored her question, “What’s foster care?”

Inko was a nervous person, especially when it came to her son, but Izuku swore he’d never seen such a disturbed, anxious look on her face. Her expression somehow fell even further, green eyes huge and staring at Izuku, looking his face over again and again. That did nothing but make him more confused. She was nervous, but she’d never, as long as Izuku could remember, looked at him like that.

“Where did you learn about that?” She asked again, her voice shaking. Before Izuku knew it, he was being swept into her arms, away from where he’d been playing. Izuku struggled for a moment, but gave up quickly, his mother talking frantically to him, “That’s nothing you need to worry about! Come on, Izuku. It’s time for bed. I’ll read you any story you want!”

Usually, that would excite Izuku, but still, he couldn’t get Hitoshi off his mind, and Izuku ended up going to bed that night more confused than ever.

 

The next day, Izuku went out again. And again, he saw Hitoshi. He was in the same spot, staring at a group of frogs sitting in the grass, and Izuku couldn’t help but notice that he was still wearing the same clothes as before, the mud and dirt having long since dried on them.

“Hitoshi-kun, why are you still wearing the same clothes?” Izuku asked, crouching down beside him. Hitoshi moved to look at him, staring at him with the same odd purple eyes as before. Izuku was closer this time, though, and noticed the heavy bags underneath them. Izuku just smiled, “You look tired!”

“You’re wearing the same clothes, too,” Hitoshi pointed out, looking Izuku up and down. Izuku felt his face heat up, turning red. Again, his mother hadn’t let him out of the apartment until Izuku had put on his raincoat, boots, and now, a dorky-looking sun hat. He felt ridiculous wearing them. Hitoshi looked away again, back at the family of frogs, but Izuku heard him snort in amusement, “That raincoat is really lame.”

“That’s really mean,” Izuku pouted, frowning at the other boy.

Hitoshi’s eyes flicked towards him, “Sorry.”

His apology took Izuku aback, and he fell silent. Izuku knew his fair share of mean people, including the boy he’d been friends with for as long as he could remember, but he’d never heard anyone apologize to him for being mean. This was a first, and even if it was just a single word and not much else, it immediately made Hitoshi okay again in Izuku’s mind.

“Oh, it’s okay!” He chirped, glancing quickly up at the second floor of the apartment complex, where his mother stood on the balcony, watching Izuku and Hitoshi. “Hey, Hitoshi-kun, you should come up to my house! We can play heroes! There’s this really cool special about heroes that’s gonna be on TV and you should come watch it with me! My mom would really, really like you, and…”

Izuku trailed off, grinning brightly at Hitoshi. Hitoshi raised his head to stare at him once more.

“Um…” For a moment, Izuku was afraid he was going to say no or tell him that he had something else to do. Hitoshi rubbed at the back of his neck, biting down on his bottom lip, “Sure.”

Izuku wanted to scream with happiness. Quickly, he grabbed Hitoshi’s hand, pulling him up and beginning to drag him back to the apartment building, excitedly rambling the entire way there.

 

“You must be the boy who’s been playing with Izuku!” As expected, his mother was happy to see the friend Izuku brought home, greeting them at the front door of the apartment. “Where do you live? You must have just moved in!”

Hitoshi opened his mouth to answer, but Izuku was quicker.

“This is Hitoshi!” He helpfully informed his mother, still holding onto Hitoshi’s hand. Hitoshi made no move to pull away from him, looking up at Izuku’s mother as he stood next to him. “He’s my new friend! He lives with the Ishiis!”

“Oh, how nice and—” The smile momentarily fell from his mother’s face. “O—oh. It’s nice to meet you, Hitoshi-kun. Please come in. It’s always nice to meet Izuku’s new friends.”

“Thanks,” Hitoshi managed to murmur, before Izuku dragged him inside, past his mother. Inko continued to look at them, even as Izuku started rambling again.

“Hitoshi-kun, you have mud all over you!”

Hitoshi froze up, pulling his hand from Izuku’s hold. For the first time, he saw Hitoshi flush, his face turning red. He averted his eyes, looking away from Izuku’s mother, and Izuku almost thought that he looked a little… disappointed. He realized that was the case when Hitoshi spoke, quieter than usual, “...Sorry. These are really my only clothes. I sat in the mud yesterday.”

Izuku was just thankful that he didn’t mention that it was Izuku’s fault that Hitoshi had sat in the mud.

“Aw, I’m sorry, Hitoshi-kun. Why don’t you borrow some of Izuku’s clothes while I wash yours?”

Hitoshi picked up again, blinking up at her. What had he been expecting, Izuku wondered—of course his mother would wash his clothes if they were dirty. That was just common sense, wasn’t it? Izuku hated it when she would throw him in the bath and wash his clothes, but at least it meant that he had clean clothes. It was weird, and Izuku couldn’t even really wrap his head around Hitoshi only having one set of clothes.

“Really? Thanks, that’d be cool,” Hitoshi rubbed at the back of his neck again, though this time it seemed to be more out of bashfulness rather than hesitancy. “I can… stay, then? Izuku-kun told me I could come over but if that’s not okay, then I’ll—”

“Of course it’s alright!” His mother interrupted Hitoshi and Izuku just nodded in agreement. Hitoshi was a little odd, Izuku was finding out, but he seemed nice enough. Izuku just liked having a playmate. “Any friend of Izuku’s is welcome here. Izuku, why don’t you go have Hitoshi-kun pick out some of your clothes?”

All thoughts and confusion left him once more and he grabbed Hitoshi’s hand before he could protest, starting to drag him off to his room, chattering excitedly, “I have lots of All Might shirts you can wear! It’d be perfect for playing heroes and watching them on TV! Who’s your favorite hero? Mine’s All Might!”

 

An hour later, Hitoshi and Izuku were sitting together on the couch, Izuku bouncing with excitement, having looked forward to watching the special all week. Even at five years old, Izuku’s favorite thing in the world were heroes and everything to do with heroes, and one of the things he did religiously was watch the weekly hour-long special on heroes. He looked forward to it all week, since it showcased new heroes and talked about their quirks, as well as focusing on bigger, more well known heroes. Izuku both got to see All Might in action and learn about new heroes.

Hitoshi didn’t really seem to know what to think. He sat next to Izuku, looking around the apartment and then at Izuku, sometimes at his mother. Hitoshi had wanted to wear just something simple, ending up picking out pajama pants and a shirt showcasing the new Wild, Wild Pussycats hero team that Izuku liked. Hitoshi was quiet, but Izuku was fine with that, instead choosing to fill the space with his own chatter instead.

The conversation came up about five minutes before the program was set to start, and it was always one of the first things Izuku talked about with anyone he met.

“What’s your quirk?” Izuku leaned in when he asked it, waiting patiently, excitedly. Quirks were another one of his favorite topics. He was too young to really know the science behind them, but he loved learning about them. He asked nearly everyone he met about it, even though his mother would sometimes scold him and tell him to not be rude.

Hitoshi’s eyes widened at the question, though, and he didn’t answer right away.

“It’s okay,” Izuku assured him quickly. They’d only been hanging out together for about an hour, but Izuku already liked Hitoshi a lot and had learned that underneath his dryness, he was a little nervous. “You can tell me. I’m quirkless, so it’s okay!”

The admission still stung a little. Izuku had only found out about a year ago, when his mother had taken him to a quirk specialist a week after his fourth birthday, both of them wanting to know if Izuku’s quirk was just so subtle that they’d missed it and subsequently finding out that no, Izuku was just one of the unlucky few who’d been born completely quirkless. All he’d wanted when he grew up was to be a hero and now… Izuku didn’t even want to think about the possibility of not being able to do that. But he still pressed on, telling anyone who would listen about how he was going to do it somehow, was going to be a hero, and asking anyone and everyone about their quirks in an effort to try to learn as much as possible about them.

“You’re quirkless?” Hitoshi’s voice was full of shock, and Izuku wondered if he’d even met someone who was quirkless. Izuku wouldn’t blame him if he hadn’t, since Izuku had only met a couple quirkless people before being diagnosed as it himself. He just nodded, not wanting to say it aloud again. Hitoshi didn’t make him, though, instead rubbing at the back of his neck again, “...I’m quirkless, too.”

Izuku couldn’t believe his ears.

No way—he’d never met another kid who was quirkless. It was becoming less and less common and here, in Izuku’s neighborhood, all the kids he knew had quirks, whether they were strong, powerful quirks like Katsuki’s, or more minor quirks. He was the only quirkless kid he knew, and Izuku’s green eyes grew wide, filling with tears, as he processed what Hitoshi had said.

“You too—?” Izuku’s voice trembled. He didn’t try to hold back the tears, and they rolled down his face, hot and fast. He was a crier—and always would be a crier—and it took very little to move Izuku to tears.

Hitoshi leaned away from him, “Why are you crying…?”

“I’m happy!”

“...What?” Hitoshi sounded like he hardly believed him. “You’re really weird.”

“Don’t be mean,” Izuku chided him, through his tears, wiping at them with the sleeves of his shirt.

“Sorry.” Just like before, Hitoshi apologized, though he still gave Izuku a questioning look, watching him wipe at his eyes. He didn’t make fun of Izuku any more, though, only still staring at him with surprise. Hitoshi blinked, looking away, and then pointed, “I think that hero show is starting.”

Izuku nearly jumped, turning to look at the television. Sure enough, it was starting. Izuku immediately quieted, the tears drying up now that he had a distraction, the excitement returning. Hitoshi stayed quiet, too, watching with Izuku. Izuku watched every week and he knew the general rundown of the show. The host would give an introduction and name the heroes they were going to cover and then get into specific incidents that had happened lately. Hitoshi had told him that he’d never seen it, though, and Izuku was excited to share his favorite show with him.

Hitoshi did speak up in the middle of the hero introductions, though, pointing again at the screen.

“Who’s that?”

On the television, the woman kept talking, footage of newer heroes filling the screen. Izuku followed Hitoshi’s gaze and where he was pointing, realizing who he was asking about.

“That’s Eraserhead!” Izuku told him, talking over the host on screen. Hitoshi had been pointing at a man Izuku rarely saw. He was an underground hero, or that’s at least what Izuku remembered the woman calling him a few months ago, when he’d first been on television. He hadn’t seen him since, but Izuku always remembered. “He doesn’t come on TV very much. He’s not really like other heroes.”

“What’s his quirk?” Hitoshi asked him, not taking his eyes off of the screen, still looking at the blurry footage of the strange, plain-looking hero. “He doesn’t look super strong or anything.”

“Oh, um…” Izuku remembered a lot about heroes, but he couldn’t remember exactly what this hero’s quirk had been. He seemed to recall the host not knowing either, like it was a mystery, but the man was definitely a hero and not a vigilante. “...I think it had to do with control? Quirk control, maybe?”

“That’s really cool,” Hitoshi said softly, looking more closely, even as the host moved on to the next segment. “I like him the best.”

 

The next day, Hitoshi came over again. He was alone, as always, and Izuku found him at the same ditch as before. He’d let Hitoshi keep the Pussycats shirt and pants he’d lent him, and Hitoshi still had them on when Izuku got him from outside and brought him back to his apartment. Izuku didn’t say anything about it, instead happily grabbing Hitoshi’s hand again and dragging him back to his apartment.

“Let’s play heroes!”

“Heroes?” Hitoshi didn’t seem to understand, standing in the middle of Izuku’s All Might themed room, looking around with a mixture of shock and confusion, like he’d never seen something like it. “How do we play that?”

“We dress up and pretend to be heroes!” It was Izuku’s favorite game. His mother played it with him. He played it at kindergarten with anyone who would give him the time of day. He even sometimes still played it with Kacchan. Hitoshi seemed to have liked the program they’d watched last night and had stayed a while longer while Izuku showed him around, eating dinner with them before leaving and going back to where he lived. If Hitoshi had liked watching heroes, then he’d definitely like playing them. “We go on missions and save people!”

“People?” Hitoshi repeated, staring blankly at him. “There’s only me and you. And your mom.”

“She’s the one we have to save!”

“Oh, okay,” Hitoshi appeared to just accept that as a fact, shrugging. “What heroes can we be?”

“I like being All Might.” Izuku usually tried to be polite and nice, especially while having guests over, but when it came to pretending to be heroes, he always wanted to be All Might. “Is that okay?”

“Fine by me.” Hitoshi’s gaze drifted around his room again, pursing his lips as if he was thinking. He looked back at Izuku, raising an eyebrow at him, “Can I be that guy with the scarf? Eraserhead. I want to be him.”

“Yeah, that’s so cool!” Izuku was overjoyed—usually he and Kacchan would bicker over who got to be All Might, and Kacchan always won. When he played with others, they wanted to be other well known heroes, like Best Jeanist and Endeavor. It was really cool to be playing with someone who wanted to be a different hero. But there was just one problem… “Um… I don’t really have a costume for him, though. But that’s okay! We can make you one!”

That was what they did. They found Hitoshi a black shirt and pants, and Izuku’s mother helped them make him a utility belt. His scarf was made out of bandages from the first aid kit, and Hitoshi seemed pleased with it. Inko agreed to be their civilian victim, and the two of them spent the next few hours running around and saving her from imaginary villains.

It was like that for four days. Hitoshi lived in Izuku’s apartment complex for a week. After that, he disappeared, and Izuku never saw him again.

That was, at least, what he thought.

 

Izuku went looking for Hitoshi.

It was hard, though. He was five years old. He didn’t even know Hitoshi’s actual last name. He asked the Ishiis about him again and again, but they just locked up whenever he asked and called his mother over to whisk him away. He cried a couple times, and he looked everywhere for Hitoshi. His mother apologized, telling him that she was sorry over and over, but even she never offered an explanation. All she said was that Hitoshi was a nice boy and she was sad to see him go.

Over the next year, Izuku formed a couple theories. There were a lot of possibilities. He decided on one, though, and that was that Hitoshi hadn’t been the Ishii family’s son, but instead a distant relative coming to visit. He still didn’t understand adoption, much less foster care, and all he could think was that surely Hitoshi was a kid visiting his family, maybe because his parents had gone on vacation or something.

Izuku didn’t forget people, and he hoped Hitoshi would eventually come back. He never did, though, and he never got his answer. Izuku never forgot people, but as the years went on, Hitoshi’s short presence was shoved to the back of his head and eventually, he stopped thinking of him. By the time he went to middle school, so much had happened that one week of his life seemed so insignificant, and it was so long ago that Izuku might as well have forgotten.

They did meet again, though. It just took ten years.

 

“Come with me.”

Shinsou didn’t give him much of a chance. After his defeat in the sports festival, Izuku had seen him around a couple times, mostly passing by in the hallways and a few times walking with Aizawa-sensei. He’d always caught Shinsou’s eye, always stopping as he passed by, sometimes offering a small wave. Shinsou had never said anything, though, and Izuku had just decided that he was still upset about his loss.

But… that didn’t seem to be the case, since Shinsou had grabbed his hand and was currently dragging him towards a nearby classroom, in the middle of the passing period when the students were supposed to be going to lunch.

“W—Wait—Shinsou-kun!” Izuku tried digging his heels into the tile floor of the hallway, looking around. No one was here, though, and it was just the two of them. Izuku had been coming from a short talk with All Might and Shinsou had been waiting for him, cornering him and grabbing his hand. “Where are we going—?”

Shinsou looked back at him, violet eyes narrowed, but didn’t respond. He must’ve been training, because no matter how much Izuku tried to pull from his grasp, Shinsou was still managing to march him towards that empty classroom. The door was already open, and all Shinsou had to do was give him a quick shove inside before stepping in and shutting the door behind him, blocking it with his body so that Izuku couldn’t get out.

Izuku just took a step back, stumbling on feet, having no idea what Shinsou wanted with him.

Shinsou crossed his arms over his chest, raising an eyebrow at Izuku, watching and studying him with those calculating, odd violet eyes of his. They were hard to read, strange and different, and his gaze stirred something deep inside Izuku.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” Shinsou finally asked, pointed and directly to the point.

“Of… Of course I remember you, Shinsou-kun!” Izuku stumbled over his words, voice high-pitched. What did Shinsou want with him? He’d trapped him in an empty classroom, dragging him here with no explanation. Izuku was more than a little afraid. “We battled in the sports festival! I couldn’t forget that.”

Shinsou scowled at him, narrowing his eyes and shaking his head, “No, not that. Before that. Just tell me you don’t remember so I can stop thinking about it.”

“I… don’t remember…?” Izuku admitted, trying to think of any time he’d met Shinsou before this. He couldn’t recall ever knowing someone with a brainwashing quirk. He’d remember if he had. Psychological quirks were rare, and Izuku was interested in them, as well. No, he couldn’t have met Shinsou before. He’d remember his quirk, at least. “I wouldn’t have forgotten your quirk. Sorry, I don’t remember ever meeting before you came to see my class before the sports festival.”

Shinsou sighed, closing his eyes for a moment before looking at Izuku again, “That’s what I thought. It’s only fair. I lied to you. Though, you obviously lied to me, too. You told me you were quirkless.”

Izuku said nothing. He just stared at Shinsou. Slowly, slowly, he was starting to remember something.

“I told you I was quirkless, too. I thought it’d be better,” Shinsou went on, holding eye contact with Izuku. “I wasn’t, but I didn’t want you to know that. You were one of the first kids who was nice to me, you know. You’re the kid that got me into heroes in the first place.”

“Oh—oh—” Izuku knew now. The first quirkless kid he’d ever met. He remembered. The wild violet hair, the oddly quiet voice, the different eyes. “—Hitoshi-kun—!”

Hitoshi had grown and matured. He was a lot taller than Izuku now. His face was a lot more defined. He was skinny and tall and his eyes looked a lot tireder than before. But he was still the same kid—the same boy Izuku had played with for a few days, and the same boy who’d disappeared, the same boy Izuku had thought he’d never see again. He was here, at UA with him, trying to get into the heroics course.

“Yeah,” Hitoshi seemed to relax a little, some of the tension draining from his face. Izuku thought he could almost see the beginnings of a smile on his lips. “So you do remember. I’m not here to make friends or anything, but I wanted to thank you for spending time with me all those years ago. I was only there temporarily and I didn’t really understand why, but that family eventually decided that they couldn’t deal with me and sent me away again. I would’ve told you, but even I didn’t know.”

He remembered everything now. Hitoshi had told him he was in foster care. At the time, Izuku hadn’t understood what that was. Inko hadn’t explained it to him. Clearly, she’d thought he was too young to understand, or maybe she’d thought he’d been afraid of her giving him up. Being in foster care explained Hitoshi’s sudden disappearance and why he hadn’t come back. His foster family—the Ishiis—not wanting him had explained their hesitance to talk about him. It was all coming together.

Clearly, Hitoshi hadn’t had a very good life in foster care. That explained his closed-off, almost sad demeanor back then. Izuku had just wanted a friend, a playmate, and he’d all but thrown himself at Hitoshi and dragged him into being friends with him.

“Hitoshi-kun, I… I get it now.” Izuku bowed his head in apology, “I’m really sorry I didn’t remember you.”

“How could you? I never even told you my last name. You probably just thought it was…” Hitoshi paused and then made a quiet groaning noise, running a hand through his wild hair, “I can’t even remember the name of that family I lived with. Whatever.”

Hitoshi stepped away from the door, but Izuku didn’t move. He looked at him in a new way. This wasn’t Shinsou anymore, the kid Izuku had beat in the sports festival, the boy with a brainwashing quirk and a disregard for anyone he considered blessed with a physical quirk. This was Hitoshi, his childhood friend, the boy he’d spent a happy week with, playing heroes and showing him around his apartment. He didn’t want to lose his friend again.

“Hitoshi-kun, what’s your phone number?” He asked, grinning at his friend, just like he had when they were kids. “We should hang out! You can come back to my apartment and—”

“Huh?” Hitoshi’s eyes went wide with surprise, mouth dropping open. “Aren’t we supposed to be rivals now? You beat me in the sports festival.”

“Not at all!” Izuku wanted more than anything to spend more time with him. “You were my friend ten years ago. You’re my friend now.”

“I’m not here to—”

Izuku had heard that before.

“Yeah, I know. When do you want to hang out, Hitoshi-kun? I’m free this Friday and Saturday and…”